Bradley and McCabe shoot the breeze ahead of Minor clash
Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Final ‘Championship Chat’ 2015
Derry Minors victory against last year’s All-Ireland finalists Donegal, has gained the team a place in tomorrow's Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Championship 2015 against Cavan. We discuss the merits of both sides with Derry’s 2007 All-Star forward Paddy Bradley and Cavan’s former All-Star Dermot McCabe, a man who knows most things about the Minor game in Ulster...
The Electric Ireland Ulster Minor Football Championship Final is a major occasion for many of the Minor players. What does this mean for the teams?
Dermot: It’s definitely a big event for both the Cavan and Derry teams. At underage level, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and probably their last chance to be part of such a major moment. An Ulster final at Clones is always an incredible occasion and I hope that the team can handle the situation and pressure on the day – I know that’s what the managers will be focusing on next Sunday.
Paddy: From Derry’s perspective, it’s a massive game for the young people. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of playing in the Ulster Minor final. My cousin Gerard O’Kane captained Derry to an Ulster Minor and an All-Ireland title and he always talks about it as being one of the major moments in his career.
In midfield Cavan have been particularly strong. Is that the key area?
Dermot: I suppose it’s a cliché but it’s definitely a battleground. Conor Brady has probably been the unsung hero. David Wilson picked up a lot of very good scores and performed extremely well in the games but Conor Brady has done a lot of solid work behind him which probably hasn’t been as noticeable. I would imagine David will be assigned the job of marking Conor Glass and he has a huge engine on him so that will be a magnificent battle. Both Conor Brady and David Wilson have a massive battle in Derry’s midfield Patrick Kearney and Jack Doherty because Donegal would have been tipped as favourites for the Ulster Minor Championship.
For the sake of argument, the midfield could cancel each other out which would result in a shoot-out. How is Derry’s full forward line equipped?
Paddy: The Derry team is well equipped with a strong full forward line. In the first round game against Down, Barry Grant and Tiernan Flanagan didn’t make it onto the field due to injury and both were two late additions to the starting line-up for the semi-final. However, they are two key players for the team alongside Shane McGuigan who poses a serious threat on the inside, backed up by Electric Ireland’s semi-final Man of the Match Conor Glass who plays at number twelve but he’ll be moving between the full forward and half forward line. Conor is tipped as a rising star and he’s already one of the top Minors in the country so I’m expecting a strong performance come Sunday.
Dermot, you were involved in the Minor championship in 2011, Cavan’s last win in an Ulster Final. How does the squad compare to this year’s line-up?
Dermot: I was involved in 2011 and it was a great success that year. The Cavan team had a lot of strong physical players in their forward line back in 2011; this year the Cavan Minor team is smaller and work very closely as a strong unit. In my opinion, there are no standout forwards but the strength is in the midfield and this battle will be a key factor in the outcome of the game.
What advice can you provide the Minors in order to cope with this occasion?
Paddy: These young players aged 16, 17 and 18 will be under huge pressure to perform on the day, so my advice would be to stay focused and keep their head in the game. There has been a lot of hype around Derry ever since the Minors defeated Donegal in the semi-final so Derry’s Minors are in the spotlight. They’ve worked hard to get to the final and it would be a real shame after two great performances against Down and Donegal if they didn’t do themselves justice in the final.
All indications are that the match will be tight. So call it – who will be the champions?
Dermot: I’m not sure if there is an out and out favourite – Derry beating Donegal was a big shock as Donegal were not only Ulster favourites but one of the All-Ireland contenders. I hope the Cavan team can build on the last two performances to date but Derry are going to put up a fight and ask a lot more questions of the players than Mongahan and Antrim have done so far. It will be down to the lads to respond to that but hopefully Cavan can shade it.
Paddy: Well there’s no doubt Cavan football is on a high, particularly at underage level. The county has been doing well at minor and U21 level for the last five or six years and St Patrick’s Cavan winning the MacRory Cup this year is testament to that. Derry earned their place on merit and they’ll take great confidence from defeating Donegal. I think it will be a brilliant game - if Derry break even in midfield then they have enough up front to take the title.